No Handcuffs Needed: Choi Speaks at Pride Week
Dan Choi, who just days ago chained himself to the White House fence, spoke last night in the HUB Auditorium as they keynote address for Penn State’s Pride Week. He referenced his recent arrest, saying, “It’s a strange feeling getting arrested for something you know is right…nothing is more liberating, nothing is more freeing.”
Choi’s demonstration was a protest of the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, a topic he brought up again in his address; he called DADT “the most despicable law because it institutionalizes shame.” Interestingly, Choi contrasted the success America has had at making Shiites feel comfortable in cities formerly controlled by Sunnis with the inability of service men and women to feel that same level of safety within their own units.
In order to relate better to his student audience, Choi cautioned that though DADT is a military policy, the attitude it represents is also prevalent at college campuses–in fraternities and sororities, on sports teams and in the classroom. (The “We Are” cheer he opened with also helped him to garner audience approval.)
Moving on from the anecdotal, Choi began giving more factual and statistical evidence against DADT. He spoke about how millions-perhaps even billions- of dollars are spent discharging soldiers who have really done nothing wrong, and how many of those soldiers have critical mission skills. Choi himself speaks Arabic, which is rare and really comes in handy in the Middle East.
Choi encouraged those of LGBT that are still in the closet to come out and fight for their rights, saying, “Freedom is never given by the oppressor; it’s demanded by the oppressed.” He referenced many civil rights movements throughout history as examples of the current LGBT equal rights movement. A perspicacious Choi told his audience, if they are worried about being judged-either for being LGBT or helping the LGBT community- that they should be more concerned with how future generations will judge them for not doing anything and sitting in silence. Choi ended his impressive speech by leading the auditorium in a chant of “I will stand!”
Since his discharge from the army, Lt. Choi has become a full-time activist, and if the passion of his speech is any indication, we’ll be seeing much more of him and his handcuffs.